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The 41 kDa flagellar protein of Borrelia burgdorferi appears to be an immunodominant antigen producing an early and strong response in most, if not all, individuals during infection in humans. It would represent a very good antigen for serodiagnosis of
Lyme disease, if its crossreactivity with flagella of other bacteria was low. To gain information on this point we isolated the B. burgdorferi flagellin by preparative two-dimensional electrophoresis for N-terminal amino acid analysis. By comparing the N-terminal amino acid sequences of flagellar proteins from other eubacteria we found that the first six out of twenty nine amino acids were identical to the Treponema pallidum and Treponema phagedenis ‘class B’ flagellins. All 29 N-terminal residues exhibited a moderate inter-genus homology (44-55%), in contrast to the high degree (67-95%) of inter-species conservation of the treponemal ‘class B’ flagellar N-terminal sequences. There was little similarity to other flagellins except the B. subtilis flagellar protein.